Washington DC (4/28/14) – Tomorrow the state of Oklahoma has set a double execution for Charles Warner and Clayton Lockett after an extended legal and political tussle around the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection procedure that still has not been adequately resolved. The men are set to be executed within two hours of one another. If the executions proceed as planned, this would be the first double execution in Oklahoma in nearly 80 years.
“What we see here is an attachment to the death penalty that has moved to the extreme,” stated Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “Basic principles of good government including government transparency and public accountability, let alone the Constitution have been trampled underfoot.”
Oklahoma stands out even among a minority of states pursuing executions despite a nationwide decline in the practice. The drug shortage that Oklahoma and other executing states have experienced is a result of an increasing hard line being taken by the international community who view capital punishment as a gross human rights violation.
Oklahoma courts originally issued stays of execution for the condemned prisoners, overriding the State’s position that it could keep the drugs and their source a secret from the prisoners and the public.
Lawmakers in Oklahoma have responded by seeking to impeach the five members of the State Supreme Court who supported those stays. Governor Fallin issued an Executive Order to override the Supreme Court’s ruling. Fallin’s actions became moot when the Court reversed itself and lifted the stay. The effort to impeach the Oklahoma Justices continues.
“These desperate attempts to cling to the death penalty in the face of mounting evidence that it does not work and is unworkable are unseemly. Oklahoma’s actions undermine the integrity of and respect for the rule of law. It is long past time for this to end,” commented Rust-Tierney.
Ironically these desperate and disturbing attempts to maintain the death penalty in Oklahoma may well be its undoing. As more people confront the ugly reality of this practice, more will be moved to stand up and get involved. 90 million Americans believe that the death penalty is wrong, unfair and must end. They have their charge, they are energized and engaged—and this will indeed end—sooner rather than later.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty. We are comprised of an extensive network representing more than 100 state and national affiliate organizations and thousands of advocates and volunteers. Our members include families of murder victims, people across the political and religious spectrum, past and present law enforcement officials and prominent civil and racial justice organizations working to end the death penalty forever.
In January 2014, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty launched the 90 Million Strong Campaign to partner with and mobilize a growing number of national organizations and individuals who believe that it is time for the death penalty to end.